Last night's TV review: Horizon: ADHD and Me with Rory Bremner (BBC2); First Dates (Channel 4)

Sometimes it's easy to get distracted

Sean O'Grady@_seanogrady
Tuesday 25 April 2017 11:34
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Rory Bremner with Professor Katya Rubia, examining scan images of the Bremner brain for signs of concentration
Rory Bremner with Professor Katya Rubia, examining scan images of the Bremner brain for signs of concentration

One thing I didn’t expect to learn in the course of Horizon: ADHD and Me with Rory Bremner was that he does a really excellent Donald Trump impression. Quite uncanny, that, and I’m sorry I’d missed it up to now.

As it happens I’d have liked to have had a lot more Trump and the like during this programme because, ironically, I found it quite hard to keep my attention focused on the subject of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and some finely honed Trump gags might have kept me from getting distracted by the BBC and Sky’s rolling news.

Perhaps unfairly, I’d also rather assumed that being a comedian/impressionist is one of the few occupations where ADHD might actually be a career-boosting bonus. After all, showbiz is surely all about attention seeking, and taking risks with good taste and with fresh uncharted material, as many a comic caught up in a Twitter storm has discovered. But, Bremner explained, the kind of uncontrolled chaos he has experienced throughout his life, and which he only gradually realised might be a sign of ADHD, isn’t much help, and it would be far better to have a slightly more moderate version of it – “controlled chaos”.

He found it, at last, through a modern version of the drug Ritalin, having previously had his brain thoroughly scanned and monitored, and meetings some fruit flies who apparently also had ADHD (once again I’d have thought a bonus for a fly, but there you go).

​ADHD is caused, in case you were actually wondering, by genetic factors – there is an ADHD gene, apparently – and by environmental ones, such as premature birth, as an incomplete development of bits of the brain can add to the risk. It isn’t curable as such, and we also met a parent whose life has been ripped apart by a young son with a severe case of it.

It can, though, be controlled and treated to a degree, and, it has to be said, the mild strain Bremner has doesn’t in fact seem to have done this life or work much harm. Maybe it was that lack of urgency in his case that left me a bit distracted by the election campaign, of all things. Well, I hope so, at any rate.

I caught up with the new (eighth) series of First Dates this week, and it is as charming as ever, just like some of the hopefuls trying to find a mate over a nice meal out. Notable this time round was Raymon, and not just because, at 90, he is the oldest candidate to have tried his luck at the First Dates restaurant, but because he brought a tear to the eye when he talked about his late wife of almost 50 years.

Despite the low bar he set himself - “just to hear some breathing, that’s all I require” - he and retired civil servant Cecelia decided against a second date. Apart from Raymon, my favourite character has to be Katy, a 28-year-old legal executive from Bridgend who declared that she was looking for her “potato waffle – edgy on the outside but soft in the middle”. Aren’t we all?

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